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[232] honeycombed, and the large number of sand bags with which we were supplied alone saved us from being blown to pieces a hundred times, our magazine doors being much exposed.

On the morning of the 24th, when the fleet passed, the terrible precision with which the formidable vessels hailed down their tons of bursting shell upon the devoted Fort made it impossible for us to obtain either rapidity or accuracy of fire, and thus rendered the passage comparatively easy.

Although all the foregoing proves the accuracy and value of the mortar fire, it alone could not reduce the forts. They had to be passed to lay the city at the mercy of the fleet. But there were the obstructions yet to deal with. 'Twas a brave deed that was done by the two gunboats, Itasca and Pinola, which, after great difficulties, broke the great link-chain that, buoyed by logs and hulks, closed up the channel. General M. L. Smith, the engineer of the department, in his report, in referring to the fall of New Orleans, wrote, “While the obstruction existed, the city was safe; when it was swept away, as the defenses then existed, it was in the enemy's power.”

By 2 o'clock A. M. in the morning of the 24th, the intrepid Lieutenant Caldwell, who had suggested the expedition of the two gunboats that had broken up the obstruction, returned to the fleet after a daring survey of the channel, and the flagship hoisted the appointed signal. In two divisions, the fleet passed through the broken barriers and steamed into the zone of fire. It was an enfilading fire, as soon the guns of both forts were brought into play. There is not space here to go into the details of the naval battle that followed with the bravely fought Confederate gunboats and the ram Manassas. That belongs to naval history. There were deeds of prowess performed by vessels that flew either flag; there were small separate actions whose relating would make separate stories in themselves. Amid burning fire-rafts and a continuous roar from the opposing forts, the first division of the fleet under the command of Captain Theodorus Bailey held its course,

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